BERLIN– After a storybook season, the Intermediate All-Stars ended their run in the Little League World Series on Sunday, Aug. 1, falling to the Nogales, Az. West All-Stars 6-5 in the U.S. Championship game in Livermore, Ca.
Berlin, representing the East region, jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Kevin Beck drove in a run with a single, Kevon Wharton had an RBI groundout and Hayden Snelsire drove in two runs with a single.
Tristan McDonough went six innings on the mound, striking out nine and giving up four earned runs. Snelsire threw a scoreless inning in relief.
The team had the top of the order up in the bottom of the 7th with a chance to tie. Wharton hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop to start the inning, but was called out on a close play at first base. Snelsire and Ryan Duncan struck out to end the game.
West went on to win the Intermediate World Series Championship game, beating Puerto Rico 11-4 on Monday.
“We’re very, very happy with the success we had this year,” said Manager Cameron McDonough. “We came here to Livermore and really played our best. We’re very happy with how the boys performed. I know there’s a little disappointment for them that they weren’t able to win the U.S. Championship game, but I think the whole world got to see how awesome that team from Arizona is. They’re absolutely fantastic.”
Berlin lost to Nogales 4-1 in a semifinal game on Aug. 1, then beat Midland, Texas 8-2 on Aug. 2 to advance to the U.S. Championship game.
“We played them tight twice and just couldn’t get over the hump with them,” McDonough said. “We had our chances. We were up 4-0 going into the third inning and had a bit of a rough inning, lost a little bit of control in the strike zone, but we still went into the last inning with the top of our lineup up and down by one run. It was a great game, it was a great week, and the boys really showed up and played well.”
Berlin went 3-2 overall in five World Series games. Wes Powell led the team with a .467 batting average with seven hits in 15 trips to the plate, and tied for the lead in RBIs with six. Powell also led Berlin with a 1.00 ERA in 14 innings pitched, striking out eight. McDonough led the team with two homeruns and tied for the lead in RBIs with Powell, also striking out 18 in 9 1/3 innings and posting a 3.75 ERA.
The team arrived in California on July 27 and flew back to Maryland late Tuesday evening, more than a week later.
“This is an experience that’s very rare for kids this age,” McDonough said. “They got to meet guys from all over the world.
“An hour after the game that we lost to Arizona they’re outside the courtyard of the hotel playing a massive whiffle ball game with Korea and Curaçao and teams from Texas and Michigan and West Virginia, and they’re all just mingling together,” McDonough said. “There was a language barrier, but baseball breaks down all those barriers. It was one of those really neat things and something these guys are going to be able to carry with them forever. They’ll be able to tell their children and grandchildren about it.”
Several of the team’s key players are moving out of the area, and most of those who remain in Berlin will begin playing high school baseball next year for Stephen Decatur.
“We knew going in that this was going to be the last summer for this team as we knew it,” McDonough said. “We have a couple guys that are moving on or moving away with their families. But as these guys begin to transition to Stephen Decatur High School – I think the high school world better have their head on a swivel, because these guys are coming.”
West Salisbury sent a team to the Little League World Series in 2007, and many of their players went on to lead Bennett High School to three-straight state finals, winning two.
“I would predict something very similar for Berlin, but I think these guys will probably go ahead and win four straight,” said McDonough. “They’ve gone through a lot of experiences as a team in the last four-to-six years that have prepared them well for any situation that arises. They don’t get down no matter what the score is. These guys are nothing short of legendary where they’re from.
“Of course we’re talking about baseball, but it goes farther than that,” McDonough continued. “They learned things that will help them be prepared to go through life.”
McDonough plans on continuing as a coach – albeit with a slightly different team next summer.
“My youngest daughter – my 7-year-old – made me promise that I would coach her in softball, so the softball world better watch out,” he said. “In the next five-to-seven years we’re going to try to put Berlin on the map with some state and regional titles softball wise.”